Review: Decapitated “The Negation” [Earache Records]

Review: Decapitated “The Negation” [Earache Records]

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Score 86%
Sacrificing Technical Prowess for Immortality
86 %
User Rating : 5 (1 votes)

Volume 3 of prime Decapitated continues to further polish the diamond that is this brand of high-octane fury from the Polish death metal savants. The previous effort ‘Nihility’ was virtually perfect technically but lacked in maturity where the songs were excellently written and executed death metal that felt somewhat aimless with its artistic direction, or at least came across as too neutral thematically and often lacked the substance that makes music feel whole and meaningful. ‘The Negation’ here changes that. Not that it’s a particularly subtle musical style by any means, but there’s real purpose and a genuine sense of an asserted personality coming through the songs. Where the previous was a tad vacant in flavor, this one has a distinctly dark and scornful edge to it.

The first thing that comes to mind describing this album is how all-conquering and mighty it feels. The grooves are – pardon my French – fucking heavy. The technicality has slowed down compared to the previous but in the sense that the songs are now more ripe and concise as they’re mainly centered around grooves, and the simplified riffs in fact come across as more cohesive and seem to carry more punch and impact with fewer notes than the last one’s trigger-happy blend of tech-death. The songs are actually built on a verse/chorus/break structure here, and it would be no exaggeration to say every single riff and part were made to count. No filler in sight.

The power chord grooves are as good and headbang-inducing as it gets in this field, coupled with the precise single-note riffing as well as the heinous tremolo picking, all drenched in subversive darkness and with an emphasis on stylistic riff aesthetics, making for an ideal formula. This extends to the solo sections, and guitarist Vogg does a great job coming up with tasteful leads and solos that perfectly fit and lift the sections rather than just toss another layer of notes over them. Some of the solo work is just excellent. The ones on the track ‘The Negation’ and on the album closer ‘The Empty Throne’ present a more somber and atmospheric lead style with long suspended notes and simpler phrasing tinged with dismay, again attesting to Vogg’s maturity as both a song-writer and guitarist. The chillingly named short instrumental (‘The Calling’) auguring the imminent grand piece de resistance (the title-track) goes knee-deep into that bleak darkly-tainted and more introspective ambiance, as Vogg just lets his guitars weep with grueling harmonized distortion feedback. The album has this sort of depth and knows to take its time to be more poignant and memorable.

Drummer Vitek puts in another spectacular shift here. His double kicks are straight up machine gun fire and his blast beats utterly destructive, they really give the impression of an unstoppable force and create a most potent combination with the clinical guitar riffing on top. The music is also generally more dissonant than previously as the band were clearly seeking a far more obscure atmosphere than on the first two records. The self-titled track in particular showcases the band’s development and maturity in that sense. They no longer need to be hyper-technical to be special, as that complexity has now been traded in for longer lasting and more memorable composition. ‘Nihility’, although a fantastic death metal record, in comparison feels a bit more gimmicky, and the riffs here more substantial and weighty. Decapitated are now in a position of complete control over their composition and can wisely choose when a song requires an acceleration or a boost in technicality. They’re no longer basically one speed: the best example for this is again the title-track, an utterly basic if not minimalist main riff and verse followed by one of their trademark intricate power chord mazes, before Vogg decides to go berserk on what is undeniably one of the record’s highlights: the breakdown on ‘The Negation’.

The album goes by in a snap, which isn’t a comment one hears often when talking about a full death metal record. As the listener we’re given so much valuable fresh information and delight to immediately have to process, it seems like 5min have gone by and we’re up to the daunting instrumental/title-track area and another bat of the eye propels us towards the vertiginous abyss that are the final seconds of ‘The Empty Throne’. A slow languishing fade to black into the distance, 30min have gone by, the trance lets go of our consciousness and we’re back on our two feet, in a room in front of a computer. Sober as ever. Top notch stuff. For this sort of death metal, it doesn’t get a whole lot better.

Release date: February 1st, 2004

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